On Fortune and Technique
Keywords:Fortune, Cumaean Sibyl, Technique, Soundings, Cosmos, Donna Haraway, Subjectivity , Objectivity
Throughout the sixth chapter of the Aeneid, Virgil conjugates the zigzagging temper of the Cumaean Sibyl as the probabilistic ambivalence of the cosmos itself rather than as its playful or inaccurate duplication. By wrapping “true things with uncertainty”, the Sibyl’s chants cultivate more sensibilities regarding the “paths of fortune” branching the cosmos, thus engaging with the given in multi-linear and inconclusive terms. This essay suggests that, by conceiving such a cosmic fortuity as a public form of subjectivity to be tempered in a sonic key (persona (L.)), the Sibyl’s oracular set-up might be enlivening more ways of engaging with Donna Haraway’s philosophical challenge: the quest for notions of objectivity and subjectivity that constitute one another without abandoning their own purpose. I would like to contend that such a sibylline engagement is an invitation to deploy more feminist lines of flight when it comes to technique’s intertwining with nature. It might offer us instruments to think of the technical and natural as always already enfleshed, yet not so much in keeping with the Promethean claim for “making the given” as in pursuit of enlivening unfamiliar forms of coexistence with the given’s probabilistic ambivalence—a conceptualisation making room for thinking of the technical in terms of syntonization, the calibration of attunement processes involving both gymnastic training and cosmetic fashioning.
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